Distillery and Brewery Tours in Edinburgh
06 September 2021
- Distillery tours
Whether you’re a whisky, gin, rum or beer fan, or simply interested in the magical science behind the process of brewing and distilling, there are numerous places in the city you can visit as part of a guided tour (and sample a few glasses!)
Please note, due to Covid, a lot of businesses are unable at present to offer tours or have altered tour arrangements. Please check websites and contact directly to confirm current availability and procedures.
The first single malt whisky distillery in the city centre in almost a century, Holyrood Distillery opened in 2019. Situated next to Holyrood Park, the 180-year-old railway goods building has been thoughtfully renovated as both a whisky and gin distillery.
As such, they have a number of tours to choose from, covering all interests and tastes.
Lasting between 60 and 90 minutes, learn how gin and whisky are made, and the traditions and innovative new methods in craft distilling employed at Holyrood Distillery. These hands-on sensory experiences, taking in either or both the gin and whisky distilleries, have plenty of opportunities for tasting and nosing throughout.
A range of bespoke experiences, including tailored and tutored tastings of both gin and whisky, in-depth masterclasses, food pairing experiences, and fine dining can also be arranged for groups and private visits.
The Scotch Whisky Experience
Although not a distillery itself, The Scotch Whisky Experience is a five-star visitor attraction on Edinburgh's Royal Mile tells the tale of Scotland's national drink and is well worth a visit. With a stunning multi-sensory tour and tasting, The Scotch Whisky Experience fully immerses visitors in the water of life via a breath-taking 180° panoramic tour of Scotland’s five whisky-making regions, and a carefully crafted recreation of an 1870s Blender’s Room. Set up in 1987 to educate visitors to Edinburgh about the joys of Scotch whisky, it is now home to the world’s largest private collection of Scotch whisky, held in a glittering vault.
15 miles from Edinburgh is Glenkinchie Distillery, one of the Four Corners distilleries of Johnnie Walker. Visitors can experience an incredible scale model to show the process involved in whisky making, a state of the art visitor centre, as well as a range of tours and classes.
(©Pickering's Gin Website)
Get an insight into how small batch gin is made at the Pickering's Gin distillery in Summerhall - the first exclusive gin distillery to be established in Edinburgh for over 150 years. See how their hand crafted small batch gin is made, find out more about the botanicals used and sample the gin at different stages in the distilling process. The tour lasts 90 minutes and is a must for any gin fan.
Top Tip: After you've finished your tour, pop next door to the Royal Dick pub which has a pipe straight from the distillery and serves Pickerings Gin on tap!
Visit the Edinburgh Gin Distillery to indulge both the mind and the palate in all things gin. Nestled in the heart of the city, beneath the stairs at 1a Rutland Place, in the dramatic shadow of Edinburgh Castle, discover more about Edinburgh’s historic gin heritage and explore this atmospheric working distillery.
You’ll meet Flora and Caledonia, the distillery’s copper stills and learn how this popular spirit is made, take a tour or a guided tasting, and even try your hand at making your own bottle of gin!
Secret Garden Distillery
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Founded in 2017, The Secret Garden Distillery is housed in the Secret Herb Garden on the outskirts of Edinburgh and in the shadows of the Pentland Hills. The garden has over 500 naturally grown and tendered varieties of herbs, many of which are used in the production of their own gins.
Beginning with the hand-picking and drying of the garden’s flowers through to distilling, bottling and labelling, everything happens on site and will be showcased during the gin garden and distillery tour.
Can't make it to the garden? No problem - book one of their live and informative Vitual Tour & Tastings and receive a full tasting of all their core gins.
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A dedicated gin bar, 56 North Bar opened in 2008 and now also has a working distillery which makes South Loch Gin.
Running around 60-90 mins, their South Loch Gin Distillery Tasting and Cocktail Class covers the basics of botanicals, distilling, equipment and bottling. You receive a South Loch Gin & Fever-Tree tonic on arrival; taste three gins made on the stills and end with a sparkling cocktail made with one of the distillery limited editions. This class is superb for anyone wanting to understand more about production as well as see a working gin still up-close.
Port of Leith Distillery
Currently based at Tower Street Stillhouse, Port of Leith Distillery are in the process of building a new distillery next to The Royal Yacht Britannia and Ocean Terminal, which is due to open in late summer 2022.
Keep an eye on their website for developments and updates.
Sip Antics specialize in small and personal gin school classes from their bespoke private micro distilling room in the heart of the city.
Lasting approx 2.5 - 3 hours, on arrival you will welcomed with a G&T, before starting work on your own gin recipe.
You will be guided through the whole process, choosing from over sixty different botanicals to create your own recipe, before making a bottle of 70cl gin on the small 2 litre copper stills, bottling, labelling and waxing it, ready to enjoy at home.
Cold Town Brewery
Learn about the craft behind the science of craft brewing with Cold Town Brewery.
Established in 2018 in an empty church on Edinburgh’s Grassmarket, Cold Town Beer takes its name from Edinburgh’s Calton Hill Brewery, the first in Britain to brew lager in 1835. That brewery was situated in the suburb Caldtoun, in the shadow of Arthur’s Seat, which we now know to be Calton Hill.
Housed within Cold Town House, visitors get the chance to go behind the scenes at the iconic city-centre microbrewery, find out how Cold Town Beer is made and follow the process from pipes to tap. Led by a member of their expert brewing team, this is a great opportunity to ask all those questions you’ve ever had about the magical process of brewing.
Aiming to find a beer for everyone, along the way you’ll sample a variety of brews, including the classic Cold Town Lager and New England IPA, as well as tasting some of their seasonal brews. The tour is completed with a Neapolitan pizza of your choice and a pint fresh from the tank.
Tours of Cold Town Brewery currently run every second Thursday and Saturday at either 1pm or 5.30pm and cost £30 per person.
Vouchers – the ideal gift for the beer lover in your life – are also available.
Edinburgh Beer Factory
(Image credit: Daniel Smith)
Combining old and new ideas and techniques, Edinburgh Beer Factory create beer inspired by the Edinburgh-born ‘Godfather of Pop Art’, Eduardo Paolozzi.
Their brewery tours include a walkthrough of their lager-making process, from blank canvas to final product. You’ll even get the chance to taste the raw ingredients and the unfiltered brew!
Whether you want to pick their brewer’s brains on brewing science or gain an insight into the more creative process of designing beer recipes and flavours, Stewart Brewing offers both.
Lasting 2 hours, visitors are welcomed with a beer, learn about the history behind Stewart Brewing and are taken on a tour of the brewery. Then it’s back to the bar where you get to sample 3 beers to enjoy at your leisure.
From ghosts to stadium tours, Edinburgh is packed with all kinds of fascinating tours that offer a glimpse into our city - learn more in our Guide to Edinburgh Tours >